The SRA has rejected a paralegal’s plea that he was too inexperienced to know he was acting dishonestly.
The regulator imposed a section 43 order - effectively a ban from the regulated legal profession - against former DAC Beachcroft employee Talwinder Jason Purewal over his response to a question about whether his client had signed an amended statement.
In its decision notice, the SRA accepted Purewal was ‘relatively new’ to the legal profession but said he had worked on 250 cases and had 'some degree' of knowledge and experience, having been with the firm for 16 months.
The notice outlined that Purewal submitted his client’s signed statement and was then asked for an amended statement. There was no evidence he then called the client at this time to obtain the amended statement.
Just 26 minutes after the request he submitted an amended signed statement knowing the client had not endorsed the latest document.
The following morning he was asked a precise question by opposing solicitors as to whether his client had signed the amended statement. Without seeking advice, assistance or guidance from his supervisor, he confirmed that his client had signed a statement – but did not refer to the amended statement.
The SRA said the question was ‘crystal clear and required a clear response’, but that Purewal allowed the opposing solicitors to be misled as to the true position. This was found to be a failure to act with integrity.
Purewal, who was based in DAC Beachcroft's Birmingham office, said that no other examples of issues with his work had been pointed out. His actions had been based on information taken from his client’s file. The SRA said Purewal accepted that his response may have been misconstrued but had not explained why he did not simply say ‘no’ when asked if his client had signed the amended statement.
The SRA added: ‘‘No’ was the correct answer. No training or supervision is needed to tell you that. The only reason why someone would not simply say no is because they knew they had not followed the correct course of action.’